The Strymon Deco Offers (Almost) All of the Benefits of a Reel-to-Reel Recorder, on Your Pedalboard

We’ve all thought about it: building a pedalboard with a 2-track reel-to-reel recorder built right in (along with the original Roland Space Echo and a theremin and maybe a Hammond organ just in case you get the mood to orchestrate some keys), but it might prove a bit too heavy. And damn if it’s tough to close the lid.

But finally, someone has crammed all of that wooly tape goodness into a pedal. Screw the recording aspect itself: we have loopers for that. No, what we want is the slapback delay, the subtle overdrive, the modulation effects of tape heads interacting with each other at various speeds. The Strymon Deco stryves strives to deliver these seemingly impossible goods, and place them at your feet. Here’s the feature set:

  • Detailed recreation of the mechanics and technology of two vintage studio reel-to-reel tape decks and their interactions
  • Nuanced sonic delivery of the classic saturation effects of the tape record/playback process
  • Simple and intuitive Lag Time knob allows for slapback delays, tape echoes, tape flanging, tape chorusing
  • Two Tape Saturation adjustment and tone shaping knobs: Saturation, Level
  • Three Doubletracker adjustment and tone shaping knobs: Lag Time, Blend, Wobble
  • Three Doubletracker blend types to tailor doubletracked sound: Sum, Invert, Bounce
  • Five “hidden” knobs for deep tone tweaking: High Trim, Low Trim, Auto-Flange Time, Wide Stereo Mode, +/- 3dB Boost/Cut
  • Press and hold studio-inspired Auto-Flange effect
  • High impedance mono input (internal jumper enables selectable TRS stereo input)
  • Stereo output
  • Two signal routing modes: Standard, Wide Stereo Mode
  • Individual Tape Saturation Bypass and Doubletracker Bypass footswitches
  • Expression pedal input allows the connection of either an expression pedal (for selectable control over any knob parameter), external tap pedal (for remote time control of Doubletracker), or Favorite switch (to save a Favorite preset)

 strymon-deco-in-out

Forget about the sonic character of this pedal for a second. The fact that it’s a high quality delay (albeit a specialized one) with tap tempo, and a modulation pedal with stereo outputs, in such a tiny footprint–that alone is noteworthy. But of course the exciting thing is the actual warm, gooey tones in the video clips. Now clips don’t always translate into the world of actual usage, so I’m hoping to check one of these units out at Winter NAMM if not sooner. Preorders can be placed at Strymon’s website, but don’t expect to actually get your hands on a Deco for upwards of 10 weeks or so. The asking price is $299.

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Chris Alfano has written about music and toured in bands since print magazines and mp3.com were popular. Once in high-school he hacked a friend's QBasic stick figure fighting game to add a chiptune metal soundtrack. Random attractive people still give him high-fives about that.